"It is not those who are healthy who need a physician, but those who are sick. But go and learn what this means: 'I desire compassion, and not sacrifice,' for I did not come to call the righteous, but sinners."
Jesus throws down. But He doesn't spoon feed it. He tells His audience to go learn something...like all good teachers do. What's more, He is talking to Pharisees here... Pharisees who are also known as 'Teachers of the Law'...who would probably be offended that someone just instructed them to go learn something... and who were upset that it's the same guy who's eating with tax collectors and sinners. The Pharisees see themselves as more 'righteous' than Him by cultural standards, so why do they need to be corrected? Sure, we can judge them from our current perspective...but what if we were there and were caught up in the wrong thing, too?
Check it out - Jesus (God) goes over to Matthew's house because He just called Matthew (a tax collector) to become a disciple. Matthew hasn't changed his friend group to all Christians yet (like good Christians do) so there are a lot of dirty, rotten scoundrels who show up to party. Jesus (God) eats with them, talks with them, hangs out with them for a while...then the Pharisees notice, and they are offended. Why are they offended? Because they don't know JESUS (who shows compassion) as God, they only know RIGHTEOUSNESS (based on sacrifices) as God...and this all just isn't matching up.
Jesus, point blank, calls them out.
Imagine Him saying this: "Look, you've been sacrificing and isolating and staying clean your whole lives, and, sadly, because of that you've missed the point. God has ceased being a person in your mind and has become a set of standards you must measure up to. But I'm telling you that God is a doctor who naturally goes to the sick...He is a person of compassion, who looks for His followers to be compassionate, too... And if you want to stay on your high horse and worship righteousness, that's fine, but what a shame...you may never feel the Father's heart."
I read that passage and that's what I imagine. Rarely do I imagine that I'm the pharisee He's talking to, though. I mean, I KNOW I'm a sinner, right? And I know a lot of times I'm the sick person who needs a doctor... I'm the adulteress sitting at the same table as Him.
But this morning I read it, and I asked myself, "Am I the one who shows the compassion that God desires?" I mean, there's a difference between staying the sick one who gets compassion and becoming the disciple who shows compassion. And maybe that's really Jesus' point... Cause, sure, we're all sinners so of course we are relieved to read this passage and know He has come for us... But Jesus says to "go and learn what this means: I desire compassion..."...He desires compassion. He desires that I have compassion. He desires that I show compassion. to others.
Lately, I've been praying for God to remind me of who I used to be... I don't think it is a coincidence I read this today. I feel like I've been caught up in the wrong thing recently. I feel like I have lost some of the compassion I once felt. I feel like I need to go re-learn the meaning of what Jesus said...
Is this not the fast which I choose,
To loosen the bonds of wickedness,
To undo the bands of the yoke,
And to let the oppressed go free
And break every chain?
Is it not to divide your bread with the hungry
And to bring the homeless poor into the house;
When you see the naked, to cover him;
And not to hide yourself from your own flesh?
And if you give yourself to the hungry
And satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
Then your light will rise in darkness
And your gloom will become like midday.